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Teen Mom

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March 1998

“I guess its time for me to say goodnight.” Coop threw his notebooks haphazardly into his bag. “Can I get some of that sugar?”

“Absolutely not.” Emily shook her head.

“See, it’s like we’re really married. You don’t give me any, you're barely nice to me; we’re just like my parents.”

“You're awful.” She stifled her giggles.

“Where's my boy; I wanna say goodnight to him?”

“I left him in the den watching TV with JJ and Penelope. We’ll say goodnight on the way out.”

“Cool.” Coop carried his bag in his hand. He and Emily walked out of the kitchen and into the den.

“Bye Coop.” JJ and Penelope said in unison.

“Later ladies.” He bent over the carrying bassinet where Emily was keeping their baby. “Goodnight, Coop Jr. Don’t drive Mommy bananas or I'm sure I’ll hear about it in the morning.”

“Get out.” Emily laughed, pointing toward the living room and the door.

Coop smirked, waving to the girls as he walked out. Emily followed.

“How are you getting home?” she asked.

“Its not far and it’s a nice night.” Coop replied, grabbing his coat from the closet. He put it on and then his backpack. “I think I’ll just walk.”

“It’s raining Coop, and its still winter for the next week.”

“I'm not the Wicked Witch of the West. I'm sure I won't melt. OK, I'm not sure, but if I do that would suck. Plus, I got this cool thing, it’s called a coat and it does a great job keeping me warm.”

“Why are you so insane?” Emily asked.

“Don’t tell anyone but,” he leaned forward to whisper. “My mom dropped me twice when I was a baby. I heard her talking about it with my Aunt once.”

“I believe you. Be careful walking and call me when you get home.”

“Will you talk dirty to me?” he asked.

“Eric Cooper…”

“OK, I'm joking…don’t pull out the Eric thing.”

“Just be careful.” Emily repeated.

“Yes Mom.” He nodded.

“And call me when you get home.”

“I will; I promise. Even if I think it’s incredibly geeky I'm gonna do it anyway. You know why?”

“Why?” she asked.

“Cuz I adore you, Emily Prentiss.”

“The feeling is mutual.”

Jason walked down the stairs and saw the two of them at the front door.

“Are you leaving Coop?” he asked.

“Yep.” Coop nodded. “I've spent some quality time with the old lady and the rugrat so now I can go get some peace. Know what I mean?”

Jason gave a little smile. Then he said goodnight and made his way to the den.

“I think your boyfriend hates me.”

“That is so not true. Jason is just…”

“Exactly, and he hates me.”

“Go home Coop.” Emily turned him around and gave him a soft kick in the rear end. “Call me.”

“I will. See ya later.”

“Bye.”

Emily followed Coop out onto the porch and then watched until he was at the corner. He rounded it so she went inside and locked up the house. Back in the den, she picked up the baby and went into the kitchen for another drink. They were doing a school project for Health Education class. Emily was glad the class only lasted a half year.

Boys and girls had been paired together and given a baby so they could discuss and journal teen parenthood. These weren't eggs like Penelope had for her school project. These were baby dolls, but they must have had little computers in them because they cried, wet, and did a lot of the things real babies did. Emily had been kept up a few nights by her little one. She had a boy, who Coop unceremoniously dubbed Coop, Jr.

They had to buy him clothes, though the school supplied them with fake food and milk. They had to buy diapers and every Friday bring the babies to school and report them to the Health room in the morning. Emily figured their teacher, Ms. Hale, was checking to see if they had been properly cared for during the week. It was a serious project and Emily was starting to show some strain. She smiled when Jason sat down beside her and took the baby. Six weeks in and two weeks from completion, she’d stop thinking about Coop Jr. as a doll.

“I’ll look after him for the evening if you just want to relax.” He said.

“I'm supposed to be doing the work.”

“Coop could stand to do a little more.”

“He takes weekends.” Emily replied. “Don’t be so hard on him. Truthfully, in the teen pregnancy situations a lot of the responsibility falls on the mother and her family.”

“Well count me as ‘and her family’.” Jason said. “I’ll keep him tonight so you can sleep.”

“Thanks.” She put on a weary smile. She still had some trig homework to finish up and wanted to call it an early night. “Do you mind doing it all tonight?”

“Nope.” Jason shook his head. “I’ll make sure everyone is in bed on time, including this guy.”

As if Jr. knew they were talking about him, he gurgled some. Jason cradled him closer and he seemed to calm. Emily was still baffled as to how the machine did that. She was so tempted to have Penelope open him up but that was a sure way to fail her project. She was sure she and Coop were doing well. So many other people in class, like Lindsay and her partner, Russ Goldman, were barely hanging on by a thread.

Lindsay announced a week ago she was never having children and declared her father would probably kill Russ if he ever came back to her house. Teen parents could bring the drama; Lindsay and Russ were doing a good job. He was a weird kid, but a nice one. No one quite understood why they were like oil and water. Russ was practically a single dad now, raising baby Kennedy almost entirely on his own.

“You're going to be an awesome dad one day.” Emily said.

“One day a long, long, long time from now. How is the project going anyway?”

“I've seen things in my classmates that I didn’t expect and some people acted just as I always imagined they would. It’s not real but some of it is, you know? When people are put into situations like this, aspects of their personalities are going to come out. It’s really interesting what this will teach us about ourselves even more so than what it will teach us about irresponsible sex. Its gonna be pretty tough to get teenagers to stop doing that.”

“Its gonna be pretty tough to get teenagers to look long and hard at themselves too.” Jason countered. “Our brains aren’t made that way. Most will forget about the project about a week after its over.”

That was sad, but true. Emily knew she wouldn’t because she was already taking care of kids. None of them were babies but she still had more responsibilities than your average teenager.

“Hey,” she looked at her watch. “Coop should've called by now. If he forgot I swear I'm gonna…”

She stopped when the phone rang. Getting up from the chair, Emily grabbed the wall extension.

“Hello.”

“Honey, I'm home.” Coop said.

“OK. I was just berating you; thought you forgot to call me.”

“Let’s just say I should've gone to the bathroom before I left your house.”

“I understand.” Emily laughed. “See you tomorrow in school.”

“Goodnight, Emily.”

She hung up the phone, sighed, and smiled at Jason. He smiled back and made her love him even more than she did the minute before. Emily didn’t want to admit how adorable he looked holding an infant. And she might be biased but Coop Jr. was a cutie pie too in the silly Mike Piazza onesie Coop bought for him. He was a diehard Mets fan and said no kid of his would wear anything else. The exception was Michael Jordan gear; but even that was under duress.

“What?” Jason asked.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Emily took her iced tea from the table. She bent to kiss Jason, then Jr., saying goodnight to them both before leaving the kitchen.

“I'm calling it an early night, guys.” She said to JJ and Penelope. “You have bed in a half hour, Penelope.”

“I know. Where’s baby Coop?” she asked.

“Jason’s looking after him. Goodnight girls.”

“Goodnight.” They said in unison before giving The Crocodile Hunter their full attention again.

Emily went upstairs and checked on Spencer. He’d had his bath and he was putting his homework assignments in order for school tomorrow.

“You have everything you need, Spencer?” she asked. “I'm going to call it an early night.”

“So we won't have our story tonight?” He asked, pushing his big glasses up on his face.

“Not tonight, kiddo, but we’ll wrap up Animal Farm tomorrow.”

“Promise?”

“Cross my heart. Come and give me a big old hug.”

Grinning, Spencer ran into her open arms. Emily kissed the top of his head before telling him Jason would make sure he was all tucked in tonight. Then she went to the bathroom before going to her room and falling face first into her bed. Maybe she wouldn’t do her trig homework tonight. It was more than half done anyway and she didn’t have the class until after lunch.

She could finish it in the cafeteria tomorrow afternoon. Emily Prentiss was beat. Between school, work, family, a baby, and everything else; she was running on fumes. Maybe Jason was right, it might be time for Coop to step up and take the baby during the week for the last couple of weeks of the project. Emily could handle it on weekends, even if she was working at the boutique.

It sounded like a good idea but Emily’s stomach dropped at the idea of Coop ignoring the baby crying or not feeding him. While she wanted to make sure she got a good grade on her project, it was a bit weird that she’d become so attached to a fake baby after just six weeks. Emily didn’t want anything to happen to Coop, Jr. She was falling asleep while also thinking about how she was going to dress the baby tomorrow when the phone rang.

“Hello.” She was confused and looked at her alarm clock. Emily had only been upstairs for about 20 minutes.

“What up?” Lindsay said. “What are you doing right now?”

“Falling asleep.”

“What? It’s barely nine o’clock. Are you sick or something?”

“I'm beat Linz.” Emily replied.

“Why?”

“Oh I don’t know it could be that I'm caring for an infant. I'm also struggling to get all my homework done, letting Spencer down cuz I don’t have the energy to read to him, and while I get to wear a uniform I have no idea what to dress Coop Jr. in for daycare tomorrow.”

“Um…you're talking about a doll Em. Are you OK?”

“He's more than a doll. On a small scale, this project is a big part of our grade in Health Education. On a larger scale, he’s my baby…at least for two months.”

“I ditched my project, mostly. I'm gonna write the paper but the crying and the feedings and all that jazz, no thank you. I can do a lot but I can't do that. Russ is doing just fine.”

“Are you being nicer to him?” Emily asked.

“Kinda.” She giggled.

“What did you do?”

“Do you promise not to tell anyone?” Lindsay asked.

“Who am I gonna tell? Coop Jr.?”

“You tell Jason everything.”

“I do not tell him our personal stuff and you know it. Tell me or don’t Lindsay, OK?”

She didn’t mean to be peevish but Emily was tired. She was tired and was falling asleep when her phone scared the begeezus out of her. Now she was having a conversation instead of sleeping. That wasn’t good.

“I jerked him off…twice.”

“Eww, Russ. I mean he's a nice enough kid but, eww.”

“Hey, the only other time he's gonna get a happy ending that kid’s gonna have to pay for it.”

“So you were doing a public service?” Emily asked.

“Something like that.” Lindsay laughed again. “He feels like he's not a virgin anymore and I'm still guaranteed a decent Health grade. I'm not planning to lose sleep over it.”

“Speaking of sleep, I gotta crash. Jason is doing everything for me tonight so I can get eight hours. I hate to cut you off but we’ll talk in P.E. tomorrow.”

“OK. Sweet dreams, princess.”

“Thanks. Goodnight.”

Emily hung up the phone. Then she got out of bed, pulled off her clothes, and put on her pajamas. She was about to turn out the lights when Jason scared her. He was about to knock on the door.

“I'm sorry.” He said.

“It’s OK. I'm just beat; I'm going to bed.”

“Did you manage to finish your homework?” he asked.

“No, but I will before class tomorrow. A good night’s rest is what I need. My bed is calling.”

“I understand. I just came in to get a goodnight kiss.”

“Mmm,” she put her arms around him and kissed him passionately. “I love you, Jason Gideon.”

“Love you too. Get some rest and tomorrow will be a better day.”

“I'm actually taking this weekend off. There will be nothing but rest, rest, rest. Dave and Erin will be keeping the kids Saturday afternoon and night. I’ll probably sleep all day since Coop will have the baby.”

“Maybe we can nap together.” Jason suggested, giving her another kiss.

“Oh…when was the last time we did something like that?”

“It’s been a while.”

“It’s a date. Goodnight, Jason.”

“Goodnight.” One more kiss on her nose and Jason left the room. He left the door ajar like always.

Emily cut off her overhead light, slipped into bed, cut off her lamp, and closed her eyes. It was time to end this long day. There would be another tomorrow but if she got enough sleep, she just might be able to get through it.

***